Thursday, 31 July 2008

Luxury, petty frustrations, and long drive.

What a strange week. After not getting Renaissance day off work – a national celebration only given to government workers, how does that work, J got given Thursday afternoon off and we went and stayed at the Chedi hotel here in Muscat. Even with it's summer discounted rate it was a luxurious and expensive treat. We got there at midday for the best check in I've ever had. We sat in the beautiful lobby, no standing by the desk, waiters brought us fresh orange juice, the forms etc to where we were sitting, and then we had a mini tour of the hotel on route to our room, which was beautiful! We spent most of the afternoon lounging by the adult only Infiniti pool, although we did take a dip n sea after a short walk along the beach. Dinner was taken in the main dining room with a very smooth red wine, but not so gentle bill, then we took a stroll through the gardens, which are filled with water features, discreet lighting, and surprising courtyards. The next day was equally relaxing with the addition of a Balinese massage before lunch, and check out. The whole thing was a lovely treat!

Petty frustrations came whilst I was working for the week in Nizwa. As usual, I was there with Shell graduates on their introduction to exploration & production course. I train on the first module, which is all about working together, and got so frustrated with two of the girls who did not want to join in anything, stating it is "culturally inappropriate". Our course director, Hannat, along with others, has carefully devised the course so everyone can do everything, and it is such a shame these girls didn't take the opportunities offered them. Ice skating was quoted as being dangerous, an outdoor activity too likely someone would touch them accidentally (10000/1 against) etc. What will they do when they have to work in a mixed environment? Refuse?

The other frustrating thing was receiving an email whilst in Nizwa, with news about my potential flat purchase and realising the Italian bureaucracy is so slow. Also, that despite making requests for things to be done, I am so dependent on others doing what they say they will, when they haven't it has delayed everything. (I'm still waiting for a form to be posted, despite asking for it at the beginning of July) Oh well. I guess I find it so frustrating having flights booked to go over and I may not be able to enter the flat, or start doing anything on it.

However, the highlight of the week, and thing that left me feeling at peace, although tired, was a beautiful drive over the Hajar Mountains. J joined me at the Nizwa Hotel on Tuesday in time to see the raft race, which signified the end of activity day and almost the end of our module. So, yesterday morning, instead of taking the normal drive back to Muscat along the highway, we drove to Wadi Tanuf and off-road up the mountainside on a graded track. After a short while, we joined a stretch of tarmac road, and that led us to the viewpoint (see pic.). Shortly after we were heading downhill on a steep graded track, full of hairpins Yeeha! It was from the viewpoint onwards that the drive was amazing as we passed through, & by, gorges, wadis (valley beds), and small villages. I was very disappointed when we finally reached the end of Wadi Bani Awf and the road to Nakhal that the drive was over, but also pleased and happy we had done it. We got back to Muscat an hour or so later tired but definitely happy, and just in time to see Dark Knight, the new Batman movie.